I am thinking about a last-minute trip to India but is it a mistake to travel in the monsoon season? I am English and the thought of escaping the heat of the UAE only to be rained on constantly is enough to put a dampener on the idea. Should I wait until later in the year? The monsoon typically lasts from June to September each year. Personally, I think this season is a great time to visit India.
As many Indians will tell you, the monsoon rains you get there are very different to the drab, plodding rains you get in Britain. In the UK the rain is often both unpredictable and unremitting, with drizzle that can go on for days. In Asia the rains are sudden and steady - dramatic downpours which can be wonderful to see from the comfort of your hotel room. Usually, the monsoon rains only last for a couple of hours each day, after which the sun breaks through the clouds and you can go about your holiday in the normal way. Only the most ardent sun worshipper should be disappointed by this.
Of course, as we saw in the far northern state of Bihar and the border with Nepal last month, where almost a million people were left homeless by flooding, there are some risks attached to travelling during this period. There has also been extensive flooding in Bangladesh and parts of Pakistan, but such extremes are relatively unusual in India, where heavy rains normally cause only localised floods which soon recede.
Taking a last-minute break will allow you to check local weather conditions before booking; also, of course, continue to check local weather reports when you arrive. Some of India's most visited areas, such as Rajasthan, with its lakes, Goa, with its rice paddies, and Kerala, with its waterways, are made more beautiful by the monsoon. The rains also signal the end of months of dry heat in India and are celebrated by locals, making for a festive atmosphere; travelling towards the end of the monsoon allows you to enjoy the spectacular greenery which results from it.
The other benefit, of course, is that by travelling outside of the main tourist season of November to March, you should be able to get much better deals on hotels and enjoy better service. Tourist sites will be much quieter than normal. You'll have to be flexible in your plans, but you'll still have a great trip. Just watch out out for the mosquitoes - they are more prevalent so cover up. Do you have travel questions or queries? If so, e-mail them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org